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Economic Impact

Economics of Hunting\Fishing\Wildlife Watching

Outdoor recreation activities provide not only favorite pastimes for Americans; they are the focus of many businesses that support the country’s economy. Across the U.S. approximately 38% of the population participated in wildlife-associated recreation. In South Dakota, the figure is 54% of our citizens.

Hunting (Figures from Southwick Associates Hunting in America 2012)

  • Hunting generates $38.3 billion in revenues sales; an $86.9 billion overall economic impact.
  • Hunting generates $26.4 billion in salaries and wages, and creates more than 680,000 jobs.
  • Each hunter spends an average of nearly $2,800.
  • Hunters pay a special excise tax on certain hunting equipment and through the Wildlife Restoration Fund this money is apportioned to states for wildlife conservation and education. As of 2012, this has generated more than $7.2 billion since 1937.
  • Hunting license sales nationwide were an estimated $807 million in 2011.
  • South Dakota retail sales for hunting activities was estimated at $723 million in 2011; a $972 million overall economic impact.
  • South Dakota hunting generated $302 million in salaries and wages in 2011 and created just over 11,000 jobs.


Fishing (Figures from American Sportfishing Association)

  • More Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined.
  • Nearly 46 million anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales and $115 billion overall economic impact.
  • Fishing supports approximately 828,000 jobs nationwide, and generates $15 billion in state and federal taxes.
  • Anglers pay a special excise tax on certain equipment that generated an additional $390 million nationwide in 2010 for conservation and access.
  • South Dakota fishing generated almost $314 million in retail sales in 2011; a $422 million economic impact.
  • South Dakota benefited from an estimated $126 million in salaries and wages in 2011 and created over 3,700 jobs.


Wildlife Watching (Figures from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • Nationwide (2011) nearly 72 million wildlife watchers spent $54.9 billion on their activities
  • Wildlife watching is becoming a popular destination activity. It is estimated that nearly one-third of wildlife watchers did so on trips away from their home.
  • A 2011 survey estimated 384,000 South Dakotans watched wildlife around their homes; most observing and photographing.
  • 221,000 reported watching wildlife away from home.
  • Wildlife watchers in South Dakota were estimated to have spent $167 million in trip expenditures and equipment costs in 2011.